Jennifer Yau was on the hunt for the perfect handbag—something she could afford but that didn’t sacrifice aesthetic or quality—and couldn’t find it anywhere. So she decided to make it herself. With that as her inspiration, One Fated Knight, her handbag line, was born. The Vancouver native moved back home from New York City and launched what would soon become her pride and joy. Her smart, clean, versatile designs are sold across Canada (find out where to buy her stuff here!), and are already gathering a lot of attention: Yau’s bags have been featured in FASHION, Flare, Front Row, The Globe and Mail, and more. We caught up with the Vancouver entrepreneur to learn a bit more about leather, starting your own line, and, of course, the perfect handbag.
Shedoesthecity: When did One Fated Knight start?
Jennifer Yau: OFK leather handbags hit the shelves across Canada for Fall 2012, but the name of the company was incepted in 2010 while I was living in New York City. Launching my own business has always been a dream of mine.
SDTC: Tell me a bit about what it was like to get the company off the ground. Business plans? Loans? Preparation? What’s involved in starting your own line?
JY: Big kahunas! But seriously, you need to have this desire to create no matter what—the thirst for challenge and pushing yourself to no limits. Once you realize that, you often have many long conversations that last into the night with your friends, family, colleagues, mentors, and the like to figure out the plan. After much discussion and you feel like you have a good hold of what it is you want to do, then you work on the preparation of plans, strategies, loans, etc.
SDTC: What made you choose bags?
JY: I was looking for a handbag that fit both my aesthetic and lifestyle, but couldn’t find anything within my budget. And when I was travelling the world after I left NYC, the idea hit me and I decided that OFK would be that niche and cater to that customer, as I knew I wasn’t alone.
SDTC: Why is leather the best material to use?
JY: Leather lasts for a lifetime and only gets better with age. It’s a material where every scratch, patina, stretch mark only adds to its character and originality. I love celebrating the flaws and imperfections in natural materials, so leather was the obvious choice for me.
SDTC: What’s so special about the perfect handbag?
JY: That perfect handbag can change the feel of a entire look, instantly. It makes the outfit go from okay to BAM! And this is because that special handbag is a work of art and a statement piece.
SDTC: Describe your perfect handbag.
JY: For a girl like me, it would have to be the deadly combination of both form and function. I need versatility with my bag as I’m usually out from day to night. It would have classic lines with modern detailing—bag that I could wear for life.
SDTC: What’s the Vancouver fashion industry like?
JL: Not completely different from a fish bowl…but it is really small and we all know each other. However, I love that there are a lot of creative people doing innovative things these last few years, and the Vancouver fashion scene is getting bigger and better. We will rival Toronto and Montreal soon enough!
SDTC: How do you define success for yourself?
JY: Being able to support myself with OFK entirely and share the wealth with my family and friends.
SDTC: Do you have any advice for others trying to create their own fashion line of some kind?
JY: Follow your heart and you will never live with regret; regret is far worse than a broken heart.